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Bipartisan Team to Introduce Super Pollutants Act to Cut HFCs, Black Carbon, Methane


Goal is fast mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants

Can provide six times more climate benefit than CO2 cuts in near-term

Washington, DC, 26 June 2014 – Senators Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Collins (R-Maine) announced today their plans to introduce the Super Pollutants Act of 2014 to cut short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) by requiring the Administration to establish a task force to review specific policies and laws to reduce black carbon, methane, and high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). SLCPs currently account for 40% or more of global warming. Because they are fast acting, they can provide more than half the solution needed to stay below the 2°C guardrail through the end of the century. It is essential to also reduce CO2 emissions to stay within the 2°C guardrail.

Reducing SLCPs can lower warming by up to 0.6°C by 2050 and up to 1.5°C by the end of 2100. Aggressive cuts to CO2 can lower warming by 0.1C by 2050, and 1.1C by 2100. Cutting SLCPs is six times more effective in protecting the climate through 2050 than cuts to CO2, but both are essential for staying within the 2°C guardrail.

Reducing HFCs can avoid 0.1°C of warming through 2050, the equivalent amount of warming that proposed cuts to CO2 can provide over the same period, and can avoid about 40% of what CO2 cuts can avoid by 2100. The US, along with Canada and Mexico, Micronesia, and Morocco, have made formal proposals to phase down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, leaving accounting and reporting in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The G7 endorsed this strategy earlier this month, as did the G20 last September. President Obama and President Xi of China have negotiated two bilateral agreements on HFCs, including one last year to launch formal negotiations under the Montreal Protocol.

The proposed legislation will reinforce the Administration’s international efforts to reduce SLCPs. The Secretary of State is directed to help the international community with efforts such as providing vehicle manufacturers with low-emission engine designs to reduce black carbon emissions and establishing partnerships to reduce black carbon in the Arctic.

The Act calls for the U.S. Agency for International Development to prioritize black carbon mitigation activities as part of aid distribution activities and to give special emphasis to projects that produce substantial environmental damage. Furthermore, technical guidance will be provided to other countries on containment of emissions from gas drilling, landfills, coal mining, and agriculture when engaging with other governments, including trade delegations, under the auspices of Department of State’s Global Shale Gas Initiative

“The Super Pollutants Act will accelerate and coordinate Administration efforts already underway to reduce SLCPs”, said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, and “this will reinforce the President’s international leadership on this critical climate strategy. It’s essential to reduce SLCPs along with carbon dioxide to keep the climate within safe bounds.”

The section by section of the Super Pollutants Act can be found here, and the draft bill text here.

IGSD’s Primer on SLCPs is here.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.